Gum Disease

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease (also known as “gum disease” or “Pyorrhea”) is an ongoing bacterial infection in the gums and bone around your teeth. If not treated, this infection can cause you to lose your teeth. Periodontal disease is responsible for 75% of adult tooth loss.

What is an ongoing infection?

When you were a child did you ever get a bad scrape which got all red and swollen? That was because harmful bacteria was able to get under your skin and cause an infection. It may have lasted for days or even weeks. Finally your immune system conquered the bad bacteria and the infection healed.

With an ongoing infection, your immune system never wins the battle. If you have periodontal disease, your immune system is losing the battle with periodontal bacteria to a point where you now have deep pockets of infection around your teeth.

Why should I get my periodontal infection treated right away?

People with periodontal disease have low resistance to periodontal bacteria. This causes a continuing gum infection which grows in “bursts” of activity. Each time it grows, more support for your teeth is lost. Some factors that can cause a ” burst” of activity are:

1. Poor Oral Hygiene
2. Dental Plaque
3. Smoking
4. Genetic Factors
5. Stress or Tension
6. Diet
7. Age
8. Illness

When your infection has a burst of activity, or when there are signs that this is about to occur, your general dentist may recommend you see a periodontist.

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

Usually periodontal disease is painless until it reaches the advanced stages. However there are some symptoms which can indicate the presence of periodontal infection.

These include:
1. Red or swollen gums
2. Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush) or at other times
3. Aching, itchy, sore or tender gums
4. Receding gums (teeth beginning to look longer)
5. Bad breath
6. Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
7. Loose, separating, or protruding teeth
8. Spaces between teeth

If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal disease, please contact your general dentist and ask for a periodontal evaluation.

Important Note: Your gums can look quite normal and yet have deep pockets of periodontal bacteria. To be certain about periodontal disease, ask your dentist or periodontist to examine your gums for signs of periodontal disease caused by bacteria.

Who is a Periodontist?

Your general dentist is trained in the detection and treatment of the early stages of periodontal infection. A periodontist is a dentist with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of the gums and bone around your teeth. This includes periodontal disease, gum and bone grafting, implants and many other treatments (see the Procedures Section). Periodontics is one of 8 specialties recognized by the American Dental Association.